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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
08ZAGREB749
2008-10-24 13:12:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Zagreb
Cable title:  

SECOND HIGH-PROFILE MURDER IN THREE WEEKS ROCKS

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  KCRM  ASEC  HR  DS  IP  EUR 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO3482
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHVB #0749/01 2981312
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 241312Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8724
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ZAGREB 000749 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/24/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV KCRM ASEC HR DS IP EUR
SUBJECT: SECOND HIGH-PROFILE MURDER IN THREE WEEKS ROCKS
CROATIAN POLITICS

REF: ZAGREB 704

Classified By: Rick Holtzapple, PolEcon Counselor, for reasons 1.4 (b)
& (d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ZAGREB 000749

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/24/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV KCRM ASEC HR DS IP EUR
SUBJECT: SECOND HIGH-PROFILE MURDER IN THREE WEEKS ROCKS
CROATIAN POLITICS

REF: ZAGREB 704

Classified By: Rick Holtzapple, PolEcon Counselor, for reasons 1.4 (b)
& (d).


1. (C) SUMMARY: Ivo Pukanic, a prominent and controversial
magazine publisher, was killed in the evening of October 23,
2008, in what is widely believed to be a murder apparently
linked to organized crime. The president convened the
national security council, and in a rare move, included
members of the opposition parties in the discussions.
However, early press statements indicate that the government
has few new ideas on how to tackle organized crime beyond the
new anti-mafia laws that are already being drafted.
Meanwhile, the second high-profile murder in less than a
month with probable mob-connections (REFTEL), has left
several local European officials wondering if Croatia's law
enforcement and legal system needs more time to reform before
Croatia is ready to enter the EU. END SUMMARY

EXPLOSION ROCKS ZAGREB

2. (U) At approximately 6:30PM in evening on 23 October 2008
a bomb exploded in a central Zagreb parking lot, killing the
owner/publisher of Croatia's second largest news weekly
"Nacional" as well as the magazine's director of marketing,
Niko Franjic. Pukanic had been under police protection for
several months after he self-reported to police an
assassination attempt in April, 2008. According to a police
spokesman the police protection largely ended, with the
consent of Pukanic, in August, 2008. However, the "Nacional"
Editorial Board has put out a communique that disavows that
Pukanic had consented to cessation of the police protection,
and claims that the MUP made the decision unilaterally. The
police have began an investigation of yesterday's killing,
but at this point have not disclosed any leads or suspects.

LEADERS SHOCKED

3. (U) President Stjepan Mesic, who had a close personal
relationship with Pukanic in the past, and Prime Minister
Sanader were both taken aback by the second high-profile

murder in less than three weeks. The president's office
released a statement that the "criminal underworld has
presented the law-enforcement institutions and the entire
system of government with an unprecedented challenge." For
his part, Sanader in a late night press conference stated
that he would assign the country's most accomplished
law-enforcement experts to the case. The leader of the main
opposition party, Zoran Milanovic, made a late night call to
Sanader, emphasizing the non-partisan nature of the problem
and indicating that his Social Democratic Party would be
willing to support the government in cracking down on
organized crime and restoring security to Croatia. The
president convened a national security council meeting on
Oct. 24, and included members of the opposition in the
discussions. The council chose not to invoke a formal state
of emergency but indicated some "emergency measures" would be
enacted. However, it is unclear what types of security
measures will be taken in the near future.

MEDIA SPECULATE ON CAUSE

4. (U) Pukanic has long been rumored to have ties to alleged
mobsters and other unsavory businessmen. Local media have
reported that much of the seed money used to start Nacional
in 1995 had come from convicted mobster Hrvoje Petrac and
controversial businessman/banker Nevan Barac. The
relationship between Pukanic and Petrac seemed to be
confirmed by the fact Nacional has published several pieces
over the years that were sympathetic to Petrac's opinions,
particularly regarding controversies surrounding shady
business dealings between indicted general Vladimir Zagorec
and Petrac. Most media outlets have described the death of
Pukanic as mob assassination, and there are wide and
disparate speculations as to the exact reason for his death.
In addition to his past relationship with President Mesic,
Pukanic was reputed to be well connected to a smorgasbord of
Croatian elite, from other prominent journalists to the State
Prosecutor Mladen Bajic.

COMMENT

5. (C) Regardless of the proximate cause of his murder, the
occurrence of two brazen and high profile assassinations in
downtown Zagreb has raised doubts among the public about
whether the government can deal with these problems. It may
also damage Croatia's attempts to show readiness to enter the
EU. In the aftermath of the death of Pukanic, several EU
member state ambassadors commented to the Ambassador that the
string of organized crime related events gives pause to any
judgment that Croatia will be ready to conclude EU membership
negotiations in 2009. Clearly, the increase in organized
crime related violence has the government on its heels, and

ZAGREB 00000749 002 OF 002


the government is struggling to find effective responses. As
state prosecutor Bajic noted in an interview given before the
latest killing, Croatian law enforcement has been hampered in
fighting organized crime because these groups have
infiltrated many law enforcement structures. Post will
suggest septel some ways in which we can support the GoC in
trying to address these challenges. END COMMENT
Bradtke